Presidents Report

Australia begins this decade in tragic circumstances. The absolute impact of massive fires across our country is yet to be fully assessed. We already know the enormous tragedy of people who have lost their lives, their homes, and their livelihood. We know of the enormity of the damage to the environment across so much of our country but must wait to see what we have lost forever and what can regenerate and recover. It is a sobering time and our thoughts are with all for their suffering and loss.

We are now mid-way through the Hooded Plover breeding season and as I write have six chicks on two territories, Fingal Track West and Montforts, that are over a week old. Our hopes for a batch of fledglings prior to the New Year was not fulfilled. We had two birds fledge, at Fowlers and Alison Avenue, but unfortunately the Fowlers chick disappeared soon after. We still have eight active nests on the go and so hope to see a few more chicks on the ground. Our records show that on the Mornington Peninsula, nesting activity drops right away as we get into February.

One particularly interesting find by Parks Victoria Rangers was an unbanded pair that have set up a new territory on the bay side of Point Nepean. We have had birds nest inside the Heads previously but not in this particular area. The nest has two eggs and is expected to hatch in the next week.

One of the new Point Nepean pair (Image: Mark Lethlean)

Although the Red-capped Plover breeding season has been very disappointing I’m pleased to report that we at least have our first two chicks at the very busy East Creek Beach at Point Leo. As I have previously reported, the Balnarring Colony has for a second year been raided by Ravens. Who knows, but maybe the proximity of campers to the nest at East Creek was able to keep those pesky Ravens at bay?

In that regard, the Beach-nesting Team at BirdLife have decided to sponsor two research projects this year. One will be looking at the flocking behaviour of Hooded Plovers through the non-breeding season and the other will be looking at performing taste aversion trials against Ravens. This involves taking empty Quail eggs (which look much like Hooded and Red-capped Plover eggs) and filling them with a chemical that might dissuade a Raven from predating nests. This is a project that the FoHP Mornington Peninsula has actively encouraged.

As discussed in the last newsletter, the committee has decided to commis-sion a work of art depicting the life stages of the Hooded Plover to be painted on a wall that overlooks the Sorrento ocean beach carpark. We are expecting that the artist, Jimmy Beattie, ( ) should have the work completed by mid February and we will let you all know of the expected time and date for a small opening ceremony.

I want to highlight again that this project has been funded by money
received from Trigger Bros. from the sale of Hooded Plover merchandise. Trigger Bros. have been a massive supporter of beach-nesting bird
conservation on the Mornington Peninsula and we thank them sincerely.
Despite the bad weather on 26 October the Beach Walks organised by Kasun from BirdLife, assisted by Holly, Chris and Mark, were a success. Hopefully the potential new volunteers and interested locals will get more involved.

We again have held several events over the summer period to educate the community on BNB conservation. Jo and Lois have held several street stalls where they talk with the public and sell some of our merchandise. They feel that the feedback from the public has been a lot more positive which is good to hear. Thanks to Dave Roberts who organised an information stall at Point Leo for the Trigger Brothers Surf Competition. We have also contributed to junior ranger programs, have talked with Nippers at the Portsea SLSC and with 14 year old cadets at the Point Leo SLSC.

We have also started a Mornington Peninsula specific Facebook page thanks to the social media talents of Bec Westlund:
Please check it out and share the page with friends, I think she has done an amazing job.

Finally, thanks to all our volunteers and the supporting staff at Parks Victoria for their tireless efforts. Let’s hope we can get a few more birds into the air before the end of this season.
Stay Safe.

Chicks using the shelter at Gunnamatta Fingal West (Image: Neil Shelley)

Friends of the Hooded Plover Mornington Peninsula President

Mark Lethlean